Pristine Jainism ► Kalpavrikshas (Forests) In Jainism ► Kalpavrikshas are Vegetation and not Earth-Form

Posted: 24.05.2012

Though the description of Kalpavrikshas in Jain literature is almost same as in modern Botany (Science of plants, trees), yet there are some aberrations. According to various descriptions Kalpavrikshas are vegetation form (Vanaspati Kaya) but have been put under earth form (Prithvi Kaya).

तब्बाहिरे असोयं समच्छद चंपयाय चूदवणा।
पूवादिसू णाणातरु चेत्ता चिदंति चेत्त तरु सहिया॥30॥

विविहंकुर चेंचइया विविह-फला विविह-रयण परिणामा।
छत्रादि छत्र जुदा घंटा-जालादि-रमणिज्जा॥35॥

[ Tiloypannati, Ist Part, 3rd Chapter ]


तीए गुछा गुम्मा, कुसुमंकुर-फल-पवाल-परिपुण्णा।
बहओ विचित्त-वण्णां, रुक्ख-समूहा समुत्तुंगा॥327॥

[ Tiloypannati, 2nd Part, 3rd Chapter ]

In the above stanzas there is mention of fruiting, leaves, sprouting and even names of trees, found even today. This categorically proves that Kalpavrikshas were actually trees (Vanaspati Kaya), but have been erroneously or superstitiously or metaphorically put under earth form (Prithvi Kaya) in metonymical style so typical of literature of that period or it may be an indication of the stone-age (Pashan-Kal) tradition. It may be more because of competitive superstition, which was prevailing, dominating in other religions and sects and more and more people were drifting away from rational and scientific Jainism. To overcome this the Jain writers also added superstitions, miracles in their writings. The Kalpavrikshas were put under earth-form and miraculous properties of giving whatever was desired was attributed to them. This may be compulsion of those times, but was wrong as factually the Kalpavrikshas were trees (vegetation) and not stony (Prithvikaya). Such reconciliations and yielding to pressures and circumstances have done more harm than good for Jainism because this has diluted and distorted its scientific and rational virtues.

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Pristine Jainism
(Beyond rituals and superstitions)


Parshwanath Vidyapeeth, Varanasi, India


Prof. Sagarmal Jain